On December 25, 2017, Chrystia Freeland, the Foreign Minister of Canada, announced that the Venezuelan Ambassador to Canada, Wilmer Barrientos Fernandez, “is no longer welcome in Canada.” Freeland also declared the chargé d’affaires at the Venezuelan Embassy in Canada, Angel Herrera, “persona non-grata.”
This declaration was a direct response to the announcement made by the government of Venezuela on December 23, that the chargé d’affaires at the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela, Craig Kowalik, was a persona non-grata, and would be expelled from the country.
For mainstream media, this is where the analysis has stopped; Canada’s announcement is being painted as a “tit-for-tat” maneuver, nothing more. However, there is much more that must be understood from this escalation in Venezuela-Canada relations, and much that the imperialist media isn’t reporting.
Why Did Venezuela Expel Canada’s Diplomat?
Delcy Rodriguez, the elected President of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly, explained why Venezuela was expelling Canada’s top diplomat in a statement from Venezuela’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She said, “We have decided to declare persona non-grata to the chargé d'affaires of Canada for its permanent and insistent, rude and vulgar, interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela; whom, despite the fact that the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry has called attention to respect the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, persistently makes statements and use Twitter to try to give orders to Venezuela.”
Essentially, the expulsion was a result of the diplomat’s intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela.
Venezuela’s decision to declare the chargé d’affaires at the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela it should not have come as any surprise to Canada’s diplomatic mission. In October, Venezuela’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorge Arreanza, delivered an official letter calling on the mission and the government of Canada to end their intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela, especially Canada’s questioning of the legitimacy of the elections for governors held in mid-October.
The government of Canada issued inflammatory statements about the October 15 regional elections even though they were broadly supported throughout Venezuela, with 220 candidates running in the 23 states, and a 61.4% voter turn-out. They questioned the results because PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) candidates won in 18 out of 23 states, once again proving that, despite what imperialist governments would like us to believe, there is mass majority support in Venezuela for the government of President Nicolas Maduro.
As well, Venezuela’s Ambassador to Canada had recently been called back to Venezuela for consultations in response to the increased intervention and provocations. This included Canada’s sanctions against Venezuela, which were expanded twice in the last two months and now target 52 Venezuelan officials, including President Nicolas Maduro.
Canada’s intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela is also not new. From 2014-2017, Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela was Ben Rowswell, a career diplomat recognized for his expertise and experience in working with “opposition groups.” As reported by VenezuelaAnalysis in 2014, “While overseeing the "democratic transitions" of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Egypt, the fledgling attaché [Rowswell] specialized in the harnessing of social media for diplomatic missions, in order to interact directly with non-state actors, in effect bypassing the target nation’s government.” Even just as indicated by the Canadian Embassy in Canada’s Twitter account, when Rowswell left in July, the chargé d’affaires certainly continued the same interventionist policies.
The government of Canada’s continued close relationship with Venezuela’s violent counter-revolutionary opposition is also apparent in the “Human Rights Prize” that the Canadian Embassy in Venezuela sponsors each year. The award is always given to someone that is a member of the counter-revolutionary opposition, someone whom has been actively campaigning against the democratically elected government of Venezuela.
Most recently, the government of Canada has also established itself as a pivotal member of the “Lima Group.” The Lima Group is made up of Canada and 11 other right-wing governments in Latin America, who have aligned with the objective of promoting foreign intervention in Venezuela. The third meeting of the Lima Group, which was held in Canada, concluded that "If necessary we must put added pressure on the Maduro regime by taking concrete steps to further isolate it from the international community.” This same sentiment was echoed again by Freeland in her report on meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on December 19 “Rex and I also had the opportunity to discuss hemispheric concerns, including the crisis in Venezuela and what actions we can take individually, together, and in cooperation with the Lima Group, of which Canada is a member, to address the deteriorating political, economic, and humanitarian situation there.”
Canada is Defending Its Own Interests in Venezuela
When Chrystia Freeland made her announcement on December 25, she said “Canadians will not stand by as the Government of Venezuela robs its people of their fundamental democratic and human rights, and denies them access to basic humanitarian assistance.” These words, and the government of Canada’s baseless excuse for intervention in Venezuela, are not new.
There is not a humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. As reported by an Independent Expert from the United Nations Human Rights Commission, Alfred de Zayas. “The situation in Venezuela definitely does not reach the threshold of humanitarian crisis” And we only have to examine the government of Canada’s genocidal treatment of indigenous people to know that the government of Canada is not interested in “democracy” or “human rights.”
As reported in Volume 11, Issue 10 of Fire This Time Newspaper “Make no mistake about it; the government of Canada is not just following the orders of US President Trump when it comes to attacks on Venezuela. They are also protecting their own interests.
In fact, the government of Venezuela has been in the targets of Canada ever since Hugo Chavez was first elected. This is when the Bolivarian revolutionary process began to put the powerful natural resources of Venezuela into the hands of the people of Venezuela. For example, in 2008, the revolutionary government expropriated two Canadian firms, Gold Reserve and Crystallex International Corp. both of which had invested hundreds of millions of dollars into gold mining projects in Venezuela.
A report by the Senate of Canada on Venezuela, issued in July 2017, also sheds light on the government of Canada’s interests in Venezuela. These interests that have nothing to do with “democracy” and “human rights” and everything to do with making sure that Canada remains competitive in the world financial market. As the report says, ‘In other respects, the government has become increasingly dependent on financial support from Russia and China in order to sustain the oil industry, giving these two countries an important stake in the future of the Maduro regime.’”
What Is at Stake?
As poor and oppressed people in Canada, we must condemn the hostile action of the Canadian government to expel Venezuela’s leading diplomats, but we also must recognize that this expulsion is an indication of the dynamics between revolution and counter-revolution in Venezuela.
Today Venezuela’s pro-imperialist, counter-revolution is disintegrating. Even the New York Times and the Washington Post are reporting on it: “political opposition is weakened and divide,” “The grim reality is that the opposition's morale is at rock bottom.”
So, it seems that the government of Canada and the United States can no longer rely on the opposition in Venezuela to carry-out their dirty work. The revolutionary government of President Maduro is stronger than ever before, whether in the polls during the last three elections, in the National Constituent Assembly, which is actively introducing new legislation that is improving the lives of everyday Venezuelans, or out in the streets, where the people of Venezuela continue to bring the gains of the Bolivarian revolutionary process forward.
Every victory of the people of Venezuela for their independence and self-determination makes imperialist governments angrier. Politically, President Maduro and PSUV are gaining ground again, becoming stronger in order to be able to advance the Bolivarian revolutionary process. As their influence increases, and that of the opposition wains, imperialist’s will have to work differently, and find new henchmen, to regain their control over the people of Venezuela.
Defend Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution!
Today, the governments of the United States, Canada, and their imperialist allies are recognizing that they have so far been unable to turn back the tide of the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela, and are continuing to lose their hegemony over Latin America. The people of Latin America have suffered a few set-backs, including the establishment of right-wing governments in Argentina, Honduras, and Brazil, but imperialists have not been able to roll-back every achievement made and strong dynamics of anti imperialist movement growing in Latin America.
The Bolivarian revolutionary process needs us more than ever before. As the revolutionary forces in Venezuela continue to gain ground and expand the Bolivarian revolutionary process, imperialist’s threats, sanctions and attacks on Venezuela will also increase. We must unite together to demand an end to all forms of imperialist intervention in Venezuela.
Follow Alison Bodine on Twitter: @Alisoncolette
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